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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Enjoy Every Image

The online Mets fan world suffered a loss this month when Warren Fottrell passed away at the age of 62. Though the name might not ring a bell, his work would probably elicit a ripple of recognition from anybody who’s ever clicked around in search of Met images. Inevitably you’ll find pictures of baseball cards that were too wild to be something you ever pulled from a pack. If you could, you’d have never stopped collecting.

Life is just a Fantazy when you’ve made it onto one of Warren Fottrell’s cards.

That was the work of Warren, who generally went by the screen name of Warren Zvon or variations thereof. I knew him a little personally (in a virtual way) from his time devoted to brightening up the Crane Pool Forum and a little more from brand-name social media. He was an upbeat, offbeat presence on every platform he inhabited. Spreading Metsian joy through an aggressively goofy illustrative prism was his implicit mission, and he fulfilled it continually.

I’ll share three quick examples of what made Warren Warren and what made us all better off for having crossed paths with him and his work.

The pitcher is Tom, but the grass was all about Ray.

1) The Sadecki Spot This started as a Crane Pool conceit based on the fact that so many Spring Training pictures where the Mets trained in St. Pete were taken on this one particular patch of grass at Huggins-Stengel Field. It got nicknamed the Sadecki Spot for the Met who was noticed posing there frequently, southpaw hurler Ray Sadecki. It’s the sort of thing that’s fun to talk about on a board for a few posts until the next prospective team president is named by the next prospective team owner. But in the imagination of Zvon, it became a trip.

Zvon never missed a chance to spread Metsian joy.

2) Bob Murphy Does Pre-Game Interviews! One 1970 Topps N.L. Playoff Game 3 card would never be enough for Zvon because shallow dives were never deep enough for his uniquely Sheaded tastes. Warren regularly delved into the Mets fan subconscious and created “Fantazy” cards that we only dreamed of (and we’ve all had dreams like this). Perhaps my favorite within his many, many sets was Murph wielding a microphone, ostensibly on the day the Mets clinched their first pennant, because, of course, Bob Murphy talking to Henry Aaron and Tom Seaver is as much of a part of the 1969 playoff experience as anything. This one, by the way, was included on an SNY telecast last year, probably searched for and selected by a production person who had no idea they didn’t design cards like that in real life in 1970 — and still don’t.

Warren could get pretty cinematic if you asked.

3) iThree Amigos! This wasn’t a card. It was a request, by me. In September of 2016, with the Mets driving hard toward a Wild Card berth, media coverage focused on the role Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera had taken in leading the Mets’ charge, both in firing up their teammates and sparking the offense. It all came together on September 22, the night Reyes homered to tie the Phillies at 6 in the ninth and Cabrera homered to beat them, 9-8, in the eleventh. I reached out to Zvon and told him what this made me think of, did he think he could retrofit the characters from the movie Three Amigos to match the Met moment? He responded cheerfully and brilliantly, per usual.

This is iceberg-tip stuff. I urge you to visit Warren’s blog, Mets Fantasy Cards, and treat yourself to a long, luxurious traipse through his archives. Also, check out his Twitter feed, @zvon714, for examples of how he responded to Met events in the wake of their occurrence, right up through Opening Day this year. He was a chronicler of our team as much as any of us who write and he was an artist like no other.

I was an admirer. My partner here was his peer in the baseball card-conceiving realm. Jason adds his perspective on all Warren could do from a technical (and personal) standpoint:

Warren and I shared a mildly insane passion for making custom baseball cards, and he was my mentor and tutor from the beginning. He was an enormously capable designer and colorizer, and as I learned those crafts, i realized just how impressive his skills were. Colorizations are devilishly hard to make convincing, but Warren’s were always warm and lifelike, because he approached them with such great care and invested enormous hours of work to get them right. He had a bone-deep love of old Topps designs and practices, but he was never afraid to tweak a classic, giving those nostalgic designs jolts of life by breaking borders or turning World Series highlight cards into frames for mini-movies. Most of all, he was generous with not just tips and tricks but also with praise and kind words. He taught me so much, and my inbox is filled with conversations in which we happily geek out about new photo discoveries or puzzle over lost printing techniques. And of course he loved everything about the Mets, celebrating not only their brightest stars but also their three-quarters-forgotten 25th men from generations past. I miss him already.

Again, do yourself a favor and visit Mets Fantasy Cards now and often to dig all Warren Fottrell could do.

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